by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life has begun an immediate Apostolic Visitation to conduct a comprehensive study of institutes of women religious in the United States.
The decree, issued December 22, 2008, indicated the Visitation is being undertaken in order to look into the quality of the life of the members of these religious institutes.
This first ever Visitation of U.S. nuns was prompted by the realization that “religious life has passed through challenging times.” It will assess the new congregations that have emerged as well as review existing orders that have seen a decrease in membership.
The Visitation will also assess the sisters’ apostolic works. “Apostolic works have also changed significantly because of societal changes,” says a special website set up to keep the faithful informed of the progress of the initiative. “These and other areas need to be better understood and assessed in order to safeguard and promote consecrated life in the United States.”
The Visitation will be conducted under the direction of Mother Mary Clare Millea, ASCJ, a Connecticut native who is superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Visitation, which will collect and assimilate data and observations about religious life, will be limited to those orders that are actively engaged in service to Church and society. Cloistered sisters, who have distinctly different lifestyles, are excluded from the study.
There are currently about 400 apostolic religious institutes of women in the United STates and approximately 59,000 religious.
Mother Millea will submit a confidential report to the Vatican at the conclusion of the task. Though there is no deadline, she hopes to complete the task by 2011.
“I am praying for all the sisters who will be a part of this Visitation, and hoping for their prayers – both for the good of the process as well as for me in this role,” Mother Millea said. “I ask the prayers of the American Catholic clergy and faithful too.”
See www.apostolicvisitation.org for more information about the project.
© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace. http://www.womenofgrace.com